Athletes competing for NFL roster spots or higher positions on the team ladder face daunting challenges in training camp. The No. 1A task that ranks next to the top priority to stay healthy, is not to make headlines for the wrong reasons.
The first thing that comes to mind in our salacious world is the dreaded off-the-field violation. However, an NFL player must consider that he can create negative publicity for himself and his team by simply saying something controversial.
What if a player is questioned by a member of the media about a teammate’s performance? What if a player is questioned by a teammate about another teammate? The short answer is to keep it simple and avoid ill will. Following are tips that NFL players may want to use when faced with these questions:
1) Be diplomatic. Even if you don’t like the color of your teammates’ socks, don’t share that. Speculating media and the public may easily make more of it and wonder what your words really mean, even if you truly just don’t like a guy’s socks. Face it – people crane their necks to see ugly. Ugly generates clicks, too.
2) Be modest. Answer a probing teammate-related question that hey, it’s training camp and everyone on the field is working to gain or regain their footing. “We are all in a learning mode at this time of the football season” is an acceptable answer.
3) Be compassionately honest. “He’s dropping a lot of balls/missing field goals, but I feel for the guy because I see him working hard each day.”
4) The buck stops there. “I think (head coach/position coach) has a great handle on XYZ position and will make the best roster selections to help us win games.”
The message to NFL players is that when you’re asked something that may be misconstrued as confrontational, negativity is easily avoided when you’re prepared with civilized, positive answers.